Sunday, 26 June 2011

CILT Cymru – Using peer assessment to improve writing skills

I was contacted a few weeks ago by Kristina Hedges from CILT CYMRU asking if I would allow them to put a link to a blogpost I wrote in November 2009 about effective feedback in one of their training modules. I was surprised and flattered (I still can't believe anyone reads this stuff!) and said "Yes" immediately. Kristina contacted me again last week to tell me that the module was on their website and give me the link.

The link was to one of CILT's training modules on Assessment for Learning entitled Barry Comprehensive - Using peer assessment to improve writing skills.

It is an excellent module and includes discussion points, activities to discuss before and after watching a video clip and some follow up activities (which is where the link to my blog can be found). I really like the module and think it would be useful to discuss and trial some of its ideas with my departmental colleagues.

Whilst browsing the CILT CYMRU site I came across another of their training modules, this time on skills based learning. This module shows how Blackwood Comprehensive has tried to raise student motivation and achievement by using interactive starters and games. Like the other module this comes with discussion points, activities and ideas for moving on.

I was impressed by both modules, they have given me a lot to think about and made me think about lots of different ways in which I can try to improve my own practice in the future.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Insomnia or How to have fun with a Random Letter Generator.

Recently, when I couldn't get to sleep I invented a new game using my digital alarm clock. Here's how it works: look at the time on the clock -

in this case 03:50, turn the numbers upside down so that they read O S E O and then try to think of as many words as you can which contain that sequence of letters .eg OStEOporosis.

So how can I use this amazing idea in the classroom?

Well, David Reed Associate Professor of Computer Science at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska has created a Random Letter Sequence Generator.

It is ideal for improving word power of MFL students. It allows you to choose the length of each random letter sequence and lets you choose which letters to randomise

For beginners you could choose to have 2 random letters and more for more able students. depending which language you are choosing, you can remove the less common letters. For example, if I were to be doing this task in French I would probably remove the letter K from the list before I started.

It is one of those games which students of all abilities could use and is easy to differentiate.

I haven't used it with my groups yet as I only discovered the generator very late last night. I imagine it will be really good and urge you to try it.

What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Desert islands discs - getting the sixth form speaking.

Sadly, it's very rare now that I find myself in a pub with my old friends Dave, Dave and Steven. Usually, towards the end of the evening when we have discussed the important issues of how badly Oldham Athletic are getting on, how rugby league is not what it used to be and what ever happened to Melvyn Hayes (and, more importantly, is he related to Geoffrey from Rainbow?) we always end up talking about our own "Desert Island Discs".

Desert Island Discs is a BBC radio programme in which a famous person chooses 8 gramophone records they would take with them should they ever be stranded on a desert island. The guest's life is then reviewed through their choice of records.

The idea is a very simple one and can be adapted for use in the classroom.

These are my rules:

For homework each student chooses 3 songs and prepares some notes.

In class they tell their partner which songs they have chosen and the reasons why.

The partner then asks questions to elicit further information and makes notes. This could be something like "Why do you like this song?" or "Where were you (or How old were you) the first time you heard this song?"

The pair then change roles.

Each student then gives a short summary to the group.

It is an interesting and fun way to get students speaking, taking notes and presenting to others and they seem to enjoy it.